This collaborative project combines psychoacoustic and physiological investigations of a fundamental perceptual component of auditory scene analysis known as auditory streaming. This phenomenon manifests itself in the everyday ability of humans and animals to parse complex acoustic information arising from multiple sound sources into meaningful auditory """"""""streams"""""""". For instance, the ability to listen to someone at a cocktail party or to follow a violin in the orchestra both seem to rely on the ability to form auditory streams. While seemingly effortless, the neural mechanisms underlying the ability to form auditory streams remain a mystery. Consequently, the few attempts at developing models of auditory stream segregation remain highly speculative, and lack the physiological data to support their formulations. The primary objective of the proposed research is to explore streaming of complex sounds in humans, and to investigate the neural mechanisms that underlie this ability in animals. Until recently, the investigation of the neural mechanisms of streaming in non-human species has been hampered by the difficulty of assessing subjective perceptual phenomena like streaming without relying on introspection and language. Building upon recent progress in the area, this project overcomes this difficulty by including as a key ingredient the development and usage of specially designed stimuli and psychoacoustic tasks to induce, manipulate, and objectively assess streaming in both animals and humans. Furthermore, these stimuli and tasks are designed in such a way that valuable physiological data can be collected simultaneously with task performance in animals. Furthermore, the proposed research rigorously investigates the hypothesis that streaming of a complex sound from a cluttered acoustic environment can be associated with segregation of spectral and temporal features found at a higher level of representation. Specifically, these features are inspired by physiological and psychoacoustic studies'of spectrotemporal analysis in the auditory cortex.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
Program Officer
Miller, Roger
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Maryland College Park
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
College Park
United States
Zip Code
Brandewie, Eugene J; Oxenham, Andrew J (2015) Retroactive Streaming Fails to Improve Concurrent Vowel Identification. PLoS One 10:e0140466
O'Sullivan, James A; Power, Alan J; Mesgarani, Nima et al. (2015) Attentional Selection in a Cocktail Party Environment Can Be Decoded from Single-Trial EEG. Cereb Cortex 25:1697-706
Mesgarani, Nima; David, Stephen V; Fritz, Jonathan B et al. (2014) Mechanisms of noise robust representation of speech in primary auditory cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:6792-7
Shamma, Shihab; Fritz, Jonathan (2014) Adaptive auditory computations. Curr Opin Neurobiol 25:164-8
Christiansen, Simon Krogholt; Oxenham, Andrew J (2014) Assessing the effects of temporal coherence on auditory stream formation through comodulation masking release. J Acoust Soc Am 135:3520-9
Akram, Sahar; Englitz, Bernhard; Elhilali, Mounya et al. (2014) Investigating the neural correlates of a streaming percept in an informational-masking paradigm. PLoS One 9:e114427
Ruggles, Dorea R; Oxenham, Andrew J (2014) Perceptual asymmetry induced by the auditory continuity illusion. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 40:908-14
Nelken, Israel; Bizley, Jennifer; Shamma, Shihab A et al. (2014) Auditory cortical processing in real-world listening: the auditory system going real. J Neurosci 34:15135-8
Krishnan, Lakshmi; Elhilali, Mounya; Shamma, Shihab (2014) Segregating complex sound sources through temporal coherence. PLoS Comput Biol 10:e1003985
Shamma, Shihab (2014) How phonetically selective is the human auditory cortex? Trends Cogn Sci 18:391-2

Showing the most recent 10 out of 36 publications